July 6, 2016

A new bill in Pennsylvania is meant to help control self-driving cars and their testing in the state. It doesn’t govern the technology specifically, but says that auto makers who want to test their vehicles in Pennsylvania have to tell the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation about any malfunctions and other issues that they see. The companies would also have to sign a legal contract, prior to the start of such testing, with PennDOT.

Those who support the bill say that it’s definitely not being created to try to keep self-driving vehicles out of the state, but that just the opposite is true. They actually want to see more self-driving vehicles; they just want to know what’s going on and to have some guidelines and regulations in place to keep people safe.

After all, there have been problems lately with self-driving technologies. A man was recently killed when a semi turned in front of him and his Tesla S did not automatically stop to avoid a crash. That’s the type of malfunction PennDOT wants to know about — even though the crash rate for self-driving cars is far lower than the rate for cars driven by humans.

One problem that lawmakers have noted is that the technology is progressing very quickly, which can make it hard to create laws in time to keep up. This general bill is thought of as a potential solution.

It’s important to keep an eye on this bill going forward. If it passes into law, it could come into play when self-driving cars are involved in accidents and people are hurt or killed, and those people need to know all of their rights to compensation.

Source: Post Gazette, “Policymakers race to address self-driving vehicles,” Jonathan Sundby, July 05, 2016